Shortly after 3 p.m. last Friday afternoon the campaign of Mary-Jane Foster got a jolt that could conceivably propel her into the mayor’s office.
Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ruled in favor of Foster and against Democrat Registrar of Voters Santa Ayala on Foster’s petition to be reinstated as a candidate in the Democratic mayoral primary. In addition, the judge also pushed the primary back two weeks, from Sept. 13 to Sept. 27, another significant victory for Foster.
Ayala had bounced Foster and her slate of candidates two weeks earlier by rejecting the candidates’ petitions. Ayala argued that since four candidates had submitted petitions to run for the Board of Education all the petitions were invalid. Only three candidates can run for the Board of Education, per the City Charter.
An elected Board of Education does not even exist in the city at the present time, as the state has taken over the local Board of Education.
In her decision, Judge Bellis wrote, “A writ of mandamus is hereby issued requiring the registrar to accept the primary petitions and place the names of the non-Board of Education candidates on the primary ballot.”
The ruling caused a jubilant campaign rally on the steps of the Superior Courthouse on the corner of Main Street and Fairfield Avenue.
Foster emerged from the courtroom victorious today to chants of “Mary-Jane! Mary-Jane!” and called on her supporters to renew their activism and efforts to not only elect her mayor but to renew their efforts to turn around the city of Bridgeport.
“Today is not so much a victory for me and our slate, today is a victory for Bridgeport,” said Foster. “This is about American government and our judicial system at its very best. It shows you what a truly great country we have. This is was a hard fought victory for the people of Bridgeport, who have been disenfranchised by this mayor not once, not twice, but three times. This is a win for fairness, a win for integrity, but most of all a win for Bridgeport. This was about the right for people to vote, for the right of our residents to determine our city’s destiny. Too often I have come across people who have given up hope… given up hope that we can grow jobs here in Bridgeport, given up hope that we can reduce the tax burden, reduce crime, end questionable ethics, end political patronage, and end cronyism.”
The candidate continued, “Now, we are renewed in our sense of justice and in our knowledge that we can believe in our fellow man and accomplish what we set out to do: grow jobs, reduce taxes, treat one another with respect, improve our standard of living, help our seniors, and teach our children.
“I pledge to you that I will use this opportunity, that I will take this challenge and make our city a better place. Bridgeport deserves better and we are going to work together to take back this city on September 27th.”
Among the Foster supporters in attendance were state Sen. Ed Gomes, former mayoral rival John Gomes and former state Sen. Ernie Newton.
It was the second raucous Foster campaign rally in recent weeks. When the news of Ayala’s action first came down, the candidate staged a rally outside City Hall Annex that also attracted a large crowd.
The entire incident may cause a backlash for incumbent Mayor Bill Finch. The campaign trail is heating up and Bridgeport voters seem to be fed up with the city’s ongoing political shenanigans. There could very well be a large anti-incumbent sentiment come election day and that could hurt Finch at the polls.